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  • Guest Editorial: Introduction to Special Issue Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the 1986 Inception of the Butterworths Series on Individual and Population Aging and the 30th Anniversary of the Founding of the Canadian Journal on Aging
  • Herbert C. Northcott and Mark W. Rosenberg

In the mid-1980s, Barry D. McPherson conceived the idea for a series on individual and population aging and, after many discussions and memos, convinced the staff at Butterworths Publishing that the project had merit. As a result, Dr. McPherson began editing a number of monographs known collectively as the Butterworths Perspectives on Individual and Population Aging Series. The first monograph in this series was published in 1986. At the time that this series came to a premature end in 1992, a total of 15 monographs had been published. The year 2011 marks the 25th anniversary of the first volume published in the Butterworths series.

In addition, 2011 also marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Canadian Journal on Aging. Furthermore, the year 2011 is significant for another reason – it is the year in which the baby boom cohort begins to turn 65 years of age. Accordingly, this special issue presents a timely review of various topics in social gerontology.

Social gerontology was a field of study that was relatively new in the mid-1980s in Canada and which lagged behind the United States and the United Kingdom. The Butterworths series played a significant role in the development of social gerontology in Canada. Each volume in the original series included a state-of-the-art review of knowledge on a selected topic and identified unanswered policy and research questions in order to stimulate further work in the area. Similarly, each article in this current special issue of the Canadian Journal on Aging reviews work done on a given topic since the original monograph was published and identifies key policy and research questions to be addressed in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

This special issue marks the beginning of the so-called seniors boom, or more alliteratively the seniors surge, or alliteratively and with unwarranted apocalyptical hyperbole, the seniors tsunami. Population aging in general and the aging of the baby boom cohort (born 1946–1966) in particular have received a great deal of attention in recent decades. This special issue of the Canadian Journal on Aging examines the research done on selected topics relating to population aging over the past few decades and identifies questions that need to be addressed in future research.

The authors of the original monographs were invited to contribute articles to this special issue of the Canadian Journal on Aging to update their previous work. Although many of the original authors were still active in academe, some were retired or had gone on to other pursuits, and regrettably the following were deceased and are greatly missed: Dr. William Forbes in 1999, Dr. Ellen Gee in 2002, and Dr. Arthur Kraus in 2009. Where possible, the articles in this special issue of the Canadian Journal on Aging were written by the authors of the original monograph series and/or by the present and currently emerging generation of social gerontologists in Canada. Of the original 15 monographs, updates are provided for 11. The articles review developments in each of the sub-fields covered by the original monographs.

In addition, articles were solicited to fill in some of the gaps not covered by the original Butterworths series. When the Butterworths series ended in the early 1990s, several more monographs could have been written to address topics that were central to social gerontology but had yet to be explored. For example, monographs on cultural constructions and portrayals of aging, leisure activities in old age, health status and health transitions in older age, and end-of-life issues were notably absent. Indeed, there is a need for a contemporary series of additional monographs that explore topics overlooked by the original series and which also address new and emerging areas in social gerontology.

In this special issue, 11 articles update monographs from the original series, and two articles deal with newly emerging topics. The relatively new topics covered by the final two articles include a...


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